Monday, May 18, 2009

Delegating Makes You a Mentor

By guest blogger, Ruth Halpern, of Halpern & Associates.

Wondering how to get started as a mentor? Delegate a project to someone today!

I was training a group of attorneys recently who said that they simply don’t have time to mentor young associates—it takes more time to delegate a task than to do it themselves. This is a tough complaint to argue with, because in the short term it’s true: it often seems easier to do a task than to break it down, teach someone else how it should be done, and coach them through the process.

The long term view, however, is that we can’t afford NOT to do it. If we don’t pass on our expertise and know-how, our organizations will be unable to survive us—we’ll have no skilled, well-trained successors. To put it another way, it’s our duty to our employer to mentor and train younger members of the organization. When we postpone or avoid this task, and try to do everything ourselves, we’re dooming the organization.

So, given the importance of mentoring our successors, how do we get past the “I don’t have time” barrier?

Last week, when I was presenting a program at the Northern California Human Resource Association’s HR West Conference, I attended a wonderful training session that provided a good answer to this question. Jo Miller, CEO of
Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc., presented a program on “Becoming a Person of Influence.” Jo presents the components of influence very clearly, and one thing resonated with me more than anything else: you can increase your “resources influence” by delegating projects to other people.

Naturally, you don’t delegate in an, “I can’t be bothered with this” way.

Instead, you might pull someone out of the crowd, saying “You’re the right person for this job. You may never have done anything like this before, but I’ve been watching you, and I’ve seen that you have capabilities that go beyond your job description.”

What Jo explained is that you can expand your influence by assigning tasks to people within your organization who might be stretched—and increase their competence, confidence, and reputation—by taking on a task you don’t want to do. You gain in several ways simultaneously:

  • You gain influence, by demonstrating that you’re a person who can build a team and get things done.
  • You gain time, by delegating a project to someone else.
  • You gain a loyal ally, someone who believes in you because you believe in them.
  • You establish yourself as a mentor while learning how to delegate skillfully.

When it’s spelled out like this, why wait?

Read more at Ruth Halpern's blog,

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fear stays silent but passion speaks

Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology Officer, Cisco, delivered an inspiring and heartfelt keynote titled “Fear stays silent but passion speaks” at last night's 2009 Women of Vision Awards. Prior to joining Cisco, Warrior was CTO at Motorola, where she led a team of 26,000 engineers.

Her five key points were:

1. Every transition brings with it a growth opportunity

-Look at transitions as an opportunity to gain skills.

2. You can gain speed in the turn

-Focus, and prioritize. We have to look at it as an opportunity.

3. Leaders blur boundaries

-It is important to have the ability to work across boundaries in the company, across company boundaries, and country boundaries.

4. The best way to gain recognition is to give it away.
-People are afraid credit will be taken away. Give recognition away. Give credit openly and freely.

5. Opportunity
is a mold waiting to be expanded -There's no such thing as a perfect fit for a job. It is up to each of us to break out of a mold and create opportunity. If you are passionate about something you'll find the courage, and opportunities will come to you.

Honored as Women of Vision award recipients were:
  • Innovation award: Yuqing Gao, Senior Manager, IBM Research, IBM
  • Social Impact award: Jan Cuny, Program Director, National Science Foundation
  • Leadership award: Mitchell Baker, Chairperson, Mozilla
UPDATE: Videos about the three winners are posted on the ABIWT channel on YouTube.